What is Family violence and what to do if it happens to you?
Your home is supposed to be your safe haven. Your refuge from the concerns, fears and dangers of the outside world. Now, what happens when your safety zone, i.e. your home is also the residence of the source of your harm?
Family violence has a scary and real presence in our society today. In the last six months alone, Singapore has seen a 22% rise in reports of family violence.
It is also sadly a problem that is often hidden away in the shadows. What happens behind closed doors doesn’t always make its way out to the rest of the world. And the resolution, if achieved, is not always fair to all parties involved.
What does Family Violence refer to?
Every family unit has a few differences of opinion and arguments from time to time. The question then arises- What constitutes family violence?
Violence in the family can be classified into broad categories including
- Partner Abuse (when issues arise between married or previously married partners.)
- Child Abuse (when the child in the household is the victim of abuse at the hands of their parent or guardian.)
- Elder Abuse (If the youngster in the house is inflicting any kind of harm on their parent or guardian.)
The term covers a rather wide umbrella of issues including the below.
|Direct or indirect verbal or physical threats|
|Psychological or emotional distress|
|Controlling behavior, including micromanaging meetings with family, friends and finances|
|Any act that induces fear for life in members of the family|
If a person in the home is in fear of their mental, physical or emotional safety; sirens need to go off. It is a valid concern on the basis of which a family lawyer in Singapore should be contacted.
What to do if you are stuck in a situation like this?
It is common and natural to think that it cannot happen to oneself. For many people, family violence is something they believe happens to other people. It is a situation they never see themselves living in. It is also a situation that can be very difficult to get out of. So what do you do if you find yourself stuck in this space?
Ask for Help
Getting out always takes a lot of strength and courage. Step one of your journey towards healing is to be brave enough to ask for help. The natural first choice for assistance would be the police. They’d be at the other side of the phone once you call – 999. Or you can SMS on 71999. If not you can turn to the national CARE hotline number at 1800-222 0000.
You will possibly be referred to either the Family Service Centre or the Family Violence Specialist Centre. If you need to leave your dwellings, you can be moved to crisis shelters that are financed and monitored by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Turn to a professional for medical assistance
If the form of family violence you’ve had to endure is physical in nature, you might be in need of some form of medical assistance.
When you visit the doctor, do not lie to your physician as to how the injuries were acquired. Be sure to request your injuries be documented. This is important regardless of whether or not you choose to pursue a legal path moving forward.
Going to see a therapist has an unhealthy stigma attached to it. Some people in society view seeking professional help as a weakness. However, that is very far from the truth.
Victims of family abuse endure a lot of attacks in the mental, emotional and physical
sense. Counselling helps them place blame in the right direction instead of detrimental self-blame. This process helps them realise their strengths and get back on their feet.
Approach a family lawyer
It is important to understand your rights. Victims of family abuse have certain legal options to help them get out of their situation. The future course of action – be it filing a divorce or other types of amicable resolutions need to be handled carefully.
An experienced and senior family lawyer can help you get a protection order to help stop the injustice.
You can even choose to apply for a Domestic Exclusion Order; it will ensure that your abuser cannot enter your home/ parts of your home.
Partner abuse serves as grounds on which you can think about beginning a divorce procedure. If your child is the victim of abuse at the hands of your spouse/ partner, it is important (almost urgent) to proceed with child custody in Singapore.
What to do if you know someone stuck in a situation like this?
While you might not be in such a situation yourself, what do you do if you know someone else who is? It can be a situation that brings out feelings of helplessness.
Luckily, Singapore has a number of helplines you can reach for. The person on the other side can guide you on your way.
PAVE Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection: 6555 0390.
While we understand the situation of family violence may seem dim, it is important to remember there is a way out. You are not alone and there are a plethora of people and facilities at your disposal to help you get to a better reality. All you have to do is gather the courage to reach out.